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Key words
adaptation, cyclical change, cultural boundary, versatility, nomadism
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Tel.: 573 443-4937;

1205 University Ave., Suite 1001, Columbia, MO 65201 USA;

Professor Emeritus (Anthropology), Dept. of Anthropology University of Missouri.


The study, on which based part of this article, was conducted between the years 1962—1964 with financial support from the Ford Foundation, and in 1978 — by a grant from the American Institute of Indian Studies (American Institute of Indian Studies) and the Research Council of the University of Missouri-Columbia. In brief and preliminary form some of these ideas were presented at the 81st Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, and then released [Gardner, 1983]. The development of our ideas was made possible in 1983 through a grant from the Research Council doctoral University of Missouri.


Comparison of two nomadic peoples, one pastoral, the other food-collecting, reveals that rapid bicultural oscillation of both is an adaptation to their multizoned environments. One may speak of their being flexible in the face of temporally variable environmental hazards and opportunities. For each people, the more nomadic of their two cultures is associated with norms of propriety, the more sedentary one entails what Freilich calls "smart norms". It is argued that this complementation gives both cultures continuing appeal, thereby facilitating rapid change. A major difference between decision making mechanisms in the two cases underscores that we treat a system type in a very abstract sense. Other, possibly similar cases are noted from ethnographic literature. A formal theory is put forward concerning the tendency of people under certain conditions to develop oscillating biculturalism. Such rapidly oscillating systems are proposed to have a biological analogue in versatile acclimatizers.


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